The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

With darkness in its soul, wider environments at its disposal, ability-granting masks in its pocket, and an engaging three-day cycle in its core, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is foreboding in how it frequently turns to the uncomfortable; thrilling in how it dares players to explore; flexible in how it gives them a great variety of tools to interact with the tense environments that surround them; and suffocating, yet fair, in how it is constantly counting down to the moment when the world will be consumed in the fire produced by the crashing of a possessed moon. The Legend of Zelda has never been stranger; gaming has rarely been better.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

It is utterly natural, given Nintendo’s stunning competence, that all 3-D The Legend of Zelda installments that followed it are superior in at least one major area. Majora’s Mask has a more distinctive vibe and stronger gameplay outside dungeons; The Wind Waker does a better job at implementing exploration and creating full-fledged sidequests; Twilight Princess feels like a grander and more thoroughly realized perspective on the Ocarina of Time structure; Skyward Sword tops it in inventiveness; Breath of the Wild operates in a level that is so different that comparisons become too one-sided; and the trend will continue as the saga advances. Yet, the steps those entries took were all solidly built over what Ocarina of Time laid down; they were only possible because the leap into 3-D was made so successfully and established so many vital mechanics.

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Cadence Of Hyrule

Cadence of Hyrule is as great as it is unlikely. And although much of its excellence can be attributed to the high quality found in the pieces that constitute it, the addictive gameplay of Crypt of the NecroDancer and the prowess in adventure of The Legend of Zelda franchise, the biggest reason for the experiment’s success lies in how it fuses those parts to form a quest that is similar yet different from the products that inspired it, forging a game that would have not existed otherwise. Its focus on quirky rhythm-based combats and its reliance on randomly generated environments hold it back from being universally recommendable, not just because of its peculiar mechanics, but also due to how some may end up perceiving it as repetitive. However, it is undeniable that Nintendo and Brace Yourself Games found an incredible middle ground between the global appeal of the properties of the former and the straightforwardness of the output of the latter. And Cadence of Hyrule reaches for greatness from that territory, smoothing out the roguelike grind of Crypt of the NecroDancer while boosting it with the visual and musical proficiency of The Legend of Zelda as well as with the franchise’s knack for birthing well-designed adventures, making it hard to conceive the partnership between a giant of the industry and an independent studio could have yielded something better.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Boosted by so many achievements in so many different areas, it is no surprise – then – that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess ranks among the best games Nintendo has ever produced. Although one may rightfully say the longer segments where players take control of Wolf Link are, albeit good, not as compelling as those starring the human hero himself, they end up working as appealing personal touches on a title that, everywhere else, delivers exactly what fans had been expecting of the franchise since the release of the GameCube. It is an effort that blatantly drinks from the classic Ocarina of Time while, thanks to new hardware, greatly amplifying all aspects that made that episode so remarkable, offering a world, a cast of characters, a story, a combat system, and a pile of content whose depth was – up to that point – completely unparalleled. And under all those layers, it boasts a beating heart that anchors its massive scope on true and moving emotions.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

Therefore, it is unfortunate that The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is so frequently overlooked. Unquestionably, the reasons behind that obscure character are perfectly understandable. After all, it is a relatively straightforward and low-key 2-D adventure released on the same console, and right in between, two excellent tridimensional giants of the franchise; and it is a game whose very best state – that is, its multiplayer action – can only be experienced through very complicated means, which involve finding four Gameboy Advance systems and the cables that connect them to the Gamecube. However, below that simplicity and those marginal complications lies a quest that is still a lot of fun even if tackled as a single-player campaign. It is true some of its production values are a bit lackluster when put under a comparative light alongside other The Legend of Zelda installments; and it is equally clear its gameplay stumbles in a couple of areas. Yet, its surprisingly varied stages and, especially, the way it uses the availability of four different Links to uncover unique cooperative puzzles and frantic battles make The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures very enjoyable.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

As a consequence, an asset that could have been used to give the game a punctual charm of its own is excessively explored. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is just way too enamored with Link’s lovely train and, throughout the quest, the game is incessantly mining it trying to find something of value, only to come up with very little, because somehow developers overlooked the fact the vehicle is nothing but an alluring means of transportation. That issue, and the fact it emerges so frequently, taking up a significant amount of the adventure’s time, ends up being the element that stops Spirit Tracks from being truly great, and that fact is especially frustrating because of how, when it is not focused on railroads, the game is usually encountering clever new items and mechanics to call its own. As it stands, however, these great moments, its good art style, its marvelous soundtrack, and the delightfully prominent presence of a very active Princess Zelda are diluted amidst the steam.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Aside from the disastrous Temple of the Ocean King, nothing about The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is purely bad. Its controls work very well and bring a few benefits to the gameplay; and its usage of the Nintendo DS’ unique capabilities unearths distinguishing traits that appear in the form of puzzles that require players to scribble on the maps. Nevertheless, simultaneously, nothing about it is truly remarkable either. Its decision to emulate The Wind Waker, albeit in a smaller and more streamlined scale, may have the positive effect of putting gamers back in touch with a lovely art style and popular familiar characters. Yet, at the same time, it causes direct comparisons between the two games to be inevitable, and given Phantom Hourglass makes some decisions that generate average dungeons and also harm the overwhelmingly delightful feelings of freedom, discovery, and exploration that drove The Wind Waker towards all-time greatness, the outcome is a merely decent game. It is undeniable that, as an action-adventure title, Phantom Hourglass does more than the average effort in the genre, for it has a myriad of clever mechanics and puzzles; sadly, as a part of The Legend of Zelda saga, it does not succeed in impressing.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Seasons

Similarly to its counterpart, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is a considerable step-up for the franchise’s handheld line of games following the impressive Link’s Awakening. And that is because even though it is built over the same framework as that game, which proved without a drop of doubt that the adventures of the hero in green could work in a smaller scale, it is not merely satisfied with achieving greatness through similar means. As such, it chooses to evolve and take risks by bringing puzzle-solving into its overworld via a remarkable mechanic that allows Link to control the seasons; by exploring new items that are smartly used in the creation of refreshing challenges; and by giving its impressively designed dungeons an action-focused touch in filling them up with rooms where killing enemies and avoiding traps work as the main course. And those pieces come together to form a unique and charming quest that still stands as one of the series’ strongest outings.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Ages

Perhaps understanding the stellar quality of the 2-D efforts that came before it, Oracle of Ages is – therefore – not satisfied with being just another The Legend of Zelda game that uses a top-down perspective to give players a glimpse into its world. Given that Link’s Awakening had already solidly proved that adventures as big as those of the hero in green could work on a handheld system, it is clear that Oracle of Ages sets out to expand upon that game’s achievements. And it does so marvelously well not only by utilizing its time-traveling mechanics to bring puzzle-solving out of the dungeons and into the overworld, but also by magnifying the testing nature of its mazes in shifting the focus of individual rooms from combats and switch-pressing to riddles of a more demanding nature. And through marrying this inclination for puzzles with the joy of exploring the colorful world of Labrynna and the pleasure of meeting the many amusing characters that are involved in its time-related conundrums, the greatness of Oracle of Ages is fully realized.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening has eight dungeons, a great overworld, an amusing tone that fits its simplicity like a glove, a plot that can be mysterious and touching, and a good amount of extra content. Therefore, it is unquestionably a worthy portable reproduction – one that cannot be missed – of The Legend of Zelda experience found on consoles. And it achieves such while sporting visuals and music that, easily ranking among the system’s best, are worthy of the franchise. In fact, Link’s Awakening is so impressive in its handling of the constraints of the system it was made for that the hardware limitations of the Game Boy are hardly felt at all. However, despite the resounding and undeniable conquest of marking the first time ever a Nintendo franchise was effectively and greatly translated to a handheld, Link’s Awakening fails to reach the same stature of the saga’s most remarkable installments for the simple reason that it lacks a truly defining trait.

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